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What we know about racial bias...
  • At birth babies show no preference for own-race faces, but by 3 months of age they prefer own-race faces (Quinn, Slater, Lee, Gibson & Pascalis, 2005).

  • 3 - 5 year-olds categorize people based on race and express bias based on race (Katz, 2003).

  • By age three children have already absorbed the climate of our society in which “middle-class white culture is presented as a norm or a standard…in terms of appearance, beauty, language, cultural practices, food, and so on” (Winkler, 2009, p. 3).

  • Black and white children tend to favor their own race at age 3  but…

  • By the time they are 5, black children also show a pro-white bias (Katz, 1997).

What we know about racial colorblindness…
  • Even infants are not colorblind; they are able to non-verbally categorize people by race at 6 months of age (Katz & Kofkin, 1997).

  • Colorblind attitudes cause greater racial bias (Richeson & Nussbaum, 2004).

  • “Silence about race does not keep children from noticing race and developing racial biases and prejudices, it just keeps them from talking about it.” (Winkler, 2009, p. 4).

What we know about family conversations...
  • ​Exposure to people of other races in books, on TV, or in real life must coincide with explicit conversations about race to have impact (Vittrup & Holden, 2011).

  • “Without making specific references to the topic of race, it is unlikely that children will understand that ... they should not discriminate against others based on their skin color.”  (Vittrup & Holden, 2011, p. 56).

  • One study found that almost 40% of white children did not know if their parents “liked” black people, despite parents reporting cross racial friendships (Vittrup & Holden, 2011).

What we know about the importance of community...
  • Our own prejudices and biases become less when we connect with others who have fewer prejudices and biases than we do (Aboud 2008).

  • Children acquire racial knowledge from community standards and conventions (Hirschfeld, 2012) and …

  • Children tend to hold racial attitudes that reflect the norms and practices of the communities they are part of (Hirschfeld, 2012).

What we know about books….
  • Books can impact empathy through our moral imagination: “...imagining both people and situations has a significant impact on perceptions, attitudes, and attributions” (Crisp & Turner, 2009, p. 234)​.

  • Reading literary fiction improves social empathy (Kidd & Castano, 2013).

  • Books have the power to…

    • Reflect the world and people of the world

    • Teach respect for all cultural groups

    • Serve as a window and a mirror and as an example of how to interact in the world

    • Show that despite differences, all people share common feelings and aspirations 

    • Create a wider curiosity for the world

    • Prepare children for the real world

    • Enrich educational experiences (We Need Diverse Books, 2017)


Click here to view a list of works cited

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